Aesop’s Fables is an ancient collection of fables, each one teaching a life lesson. One of the fables involves a father, his son, and their donkey. And the lesson it teaches is a timeless one that we’d do well to revisit today.
The father, the son, and their donkey were all walking down the road toward the market. Everything was fine until some people passed by them and said, “You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?” So the father placed the son upon the donkey and continued down the road.
A little while later some more people passed by and said, “Look at that lazy youngster. He lets his father walk while he rides.” Embarrassed by the criticism, the father and the son switched places and continued down the road.
They hadn’t gone too far before some more people passed by and said, “Shame on that lazy father for riding while his son has to trudge alongside.” So the father had the son climb onto the donkey with him. Then they continued down the road.
When they reached town, some of the townspeople pointed at them and jeered. The father stopped the donkey and asked someone the reason for the pointing and jeering. The answer he received was, “Aren’t you two ashamed of yourself for loading down that poor donkey?” So the father and son dismounted the donkey and tried to figure out the best way to proceed.
Since they had tried every other way and been criticized for each one, they hit upon the idea of cutting down a pole, tying the donkey’s feet to it, and carrying the pole across their shoulders, with the donkey hanging upside down in suspension between them. It took some doing to get all that accomplished, but they finally got it done and started making their way onward to the town market.
As the father and son walked along, onlookers laughed at them, but the pair had decided that they weren’t going to do any more changing. This means of travel was their last option. So they ignored all the laughter and continued toward the market.
But when they got to the bridge that lay just before the market the donkey worked one of its feet loose from the pole and started kicking wildly. All the commotion caused the son to drop his end of the pole, and as a result of the ensuing struggle the donkey (with three of its feet still being tied to the pole) ended up going over the side of the bridge and drowning. As the father and son stood there looking down into the water, watching their poor animal succumb to its death, they heard the critical voice of an old man who had followed them through town in disbelief. The old man said to them, “That will teach you.”
Okay, boys and girls, what is the life lesson of this fable? It is simply this: PLEASE ALL, AND YOU WILL PLEASE NONE. At least that’s how the fable words it. We might word it: YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYBODY, SO DON’T EVEN BOTHER TRYING.
In Genesis 5:24, the Bible tells us that Enoch walked with God and God took him from this earth by some means other than death. Hebrews 11:5 adds more commentary on this verse by saying:
By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (N.K.J.V.)
You see, Enoch understood how to live. The priority of your life and my life should be simply to please God. If we can do that, what the critics have to say won’t matter. So let’s stop worrying so much about other people’s opinions and expectations of us, and strive to focus exclusively upon doing God’s will in every given situation. If we’ll do that, we won’t be losing any of our donkeys to drowning.